This is my third year going to RootsTech in Salt Lake City, so I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the overall experience. But this is my first time as an Official Ambassador, which is a thrilling addition and requires some extra planning. Part of what I’m expected to do as an Ambassador is to promote what I’m seeing and build excitement about the conference overall. So I need to have a solid plan of what my days are going to be spent doing. Today I went over which workshops I wanted to try to attend. And then I made my list of things I needed to bring with me each day during the conference. There is a lot of walking at RootsTech. I don’t like to be bogged down with things.
My top 4 things I can’t live without at #RootsTech
1) The RootsTech App
I have nothing against paper and pencil, but in my regular day job working in community media, I’ve trained myself to do my homework ahead of time and use my cell phone for reference because I’m frequently going to meetings away from the office, or filming somewhere in the field. With the RootsTech app I can load all my “hope to attend” workshops and refer to it as I go along the day. Sometimes I may not be vibing on a certain workshop as I was earlier in the day. In that case, I just look at my app and choose another workshop that I had starred for that same time.
The app also tells me where my favorite exhibitors are, it tells me what is happening right at any particular moment, and also lets me follow along with RootsTech Social Media. I can even post directly from the app! That’s a plus for me as a newbie Ambassador.
Basically, I love everything about the app and how it streamlines my RootsTech experience
2) My Genealogy Business Cards
The wonderful perk of RootsTech is that it is a convention center full of genealogy nerds just like me! I want to know them all. So when I make a connection in a workshop, or if I sit next to someone at the Live Demo Theater, or if I meet someone in the hotel lounge after a long day, I want to keep that connection going after the conference ends. I may be biased, but genealogy folk are the nicest people ever. They are helpful and considerate even if you don’t share any family connection. Maybe that connection you made at RootsTech is an expert in a certain area of research that will help you break down some brick walls. Maybe I live in a state that someone 3,000 miles can’t ever get to and I can do a record look up or snap a photo in a cemetery of a grave stone for them. My cards give all my contact info, my blog info, and the names I’m researching.
3) My GeneaBloggers Tribe beads
Blogger beads are handed out to bloggers at conferences who belong to the GeneaBloggers Tribe group. They are a fun way to help to identify each other and make connections. These beads mean a lot to me. Let me explain. I’ve had a blog since June 2015 after I met a group of genealogy bloggers at Jamboree in Burbank California headed up by Thomas MacEntee. I had always wanted to start a family history blog as a place where my daughters could read about some of our ancestors as well as some of my own personal stories. But I just never got around to actually doing it. I was just over thinking it all. Thomas, who had never met me before, said, “Stop thinking about it and just do it. ” For whatever reason, hearing it from someone else just sealed it for me. So I did. I joined what was then his GeneaBloggers group. It was a wonderful resource for bloggers with writing prompts and other blogger support. GeneaBloggers is now re-named and rebranded GeneaBloggers Tribe. Same great members, same great resources and more, just headed up by some different people because Thomas was launching his Abundant Genealogy formula and it was time to pass the torch for GeneaBloggers to some trusted long-term members.
I went to Jamboree the next year in 2016, but I was too shy to get immersed with the other bloggers. I hung around with my friends, but didn’t reach out to any of the other bloggers or professionals. I didn’t feel I was equal to what they were doing. This blogging was just for my kids, after all. I wasn’t educating anyone about genealogy. I wasn’t confident enough to see what I was doing had value as well. So I didn’t ask for any blogger beads there. I regret that. Nor did I ask for them at RootsTech 2017. I regret that too! But fast forward to April 2017 and NERGC. There I attended a roundtable meeting for Bloggers and it finally hit me that, of course, what I was doing was worthwhile! Every blogger journey is unique, and that was ok. I claimed my beads with pride at NERGC. I’m wearing them at RootsTech with pride, and getting another strand, I hope. Now, I’ve designated 2018 as my year of dipping my toe into the professional side of genealogy. I don’t know what that will mean for me and for my genealogy mission, but I intend to immerse myself with other professionals at RootsTech this year and learn more about that side of genealogy. I take being an Ambassador very seriously. I plan to blog and tweet regularly while I’m there, wearing my GeneaBlogger Tribe beads with pride.
4) My laptop
I bring both my laptop and iPad to RootsTech. I use them interchangeably. I have an external attached keyboard for my iPad so it works just like my laptop. But sometimes I just like the bigger screen of my laptop. The HP Elitebook that I have is super lightweight so packing it into my conference bag is no issue as far as weight.
Like I said, I plan to do a lot of blogging at RootsTech this year. I want everyone to see this fantastic conference through my eyes. Maybe I’ll even do some interviews with others. You would think my job in media would give me a head start on that one but I’m an introvert by nature so reaching out to people to get an interview is something that will take me outside my comfort zone. We’ll see.
I travel light at RootsTech. It’s my preferred way to do things so I don’t get overwhelmed and over tired.
I could have added two other things to this list.
1) Good shoes
2) A refillable water bottle
Listen, no one cares if you are wearing cute shoes at RootsTech. Everyone is completely focused on learning, networking and getting their geek on. Your shoes don’t matter. Be comfortable. You’ll thank me for it. Bottled water is also a must. This New Englander can handle Utah cold weather and snow, no problem. But the altitude and dry air was an adjustment for me. Water was my savior. I drank a lot of it and felt better because of it.
Do you have your “must have” things when you go to a conference? If you are going to RootsTech, what do you bring with you during the conference day?
DISCLAIMER: I am a RootsTech2018 Ambassador. One of my responsibilities as an Ambassador is to promote the RootsTech 2018 conference before, during and after. In return for promotion, I have received a free pass to the RootsTech2018 conference. Airfare, accommodations and other expenses are not compensated. I’ll be recounting in this blog my experience before, during and after the conference.